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Maalox vs Tums

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Maalox Overview

Maalox Uses

Maalox Mechanism of Action

Tums Overview

Tums Uses

Tums Mechanism of Action

Effectiveness Comparison

Maalox Dosage

Tums Dosage

Maalox Side Effects

Maalox Serious Side Effects

Tums Side Effects

Tums Serious Side Effects


Cost Comparison




For individuals suffering from heartburn, indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), certain medications that neutralize stomach acid can help manage the discomfort and pain. Maalox and Tums are two such over-the-counter drugs often recommended for these conditions. Both work by neutralizing gastric acid to alleviate symptoms, but they differ in their composition and mechanism of action. Maalox is an antacid that contains both aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, providing a balanced approach to counteract acidity levels in the stomach. On the other hand, Tums mainly consists of calcium carbonate which not only aids in reducing excess stomach acid but also provides supplementary calcium for those with deficiencies. Each individual's response may vary depending on factors like severity of symptoms or presence of any other underlying condition; therefore it’s vital to consult your healthcare provider before choosing between them.

Maalox vs Tums Side By Side

Brand NameMaaloxTums
ContraindicationsShould not be taken with certain antibiotics like tetracycline or fluoroquinolones unless directed by a physician. Caution advised for individuals with kidney disease and pregnant women.Use caution if you have kidney disease or are on a high calcium diet. Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider.
CostApproximately $8 for a 12 oz bottle of Maalox Advanced Maximum Strength LiquidApproximately $10 for a bottle of Tums Ultra Strength (160 tablets)
Generic NameAluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxideCalcium carbonate
Most Serious Side EffectAllergic reactions, severe stomach pain or constipation, unexplained weight loss, nausea or vomiting, bone pain or muscle weakness, changes in mood or mental stateAllergic reaction, unusual mood changes or confusion, ongoing upset stomach, decrease in urine or painful urination, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss, muscle weakness and twitching, slow heart rate or weak pulse
Severe Drug InteractionsMay interfere with the absorption of certain antibiotics if not timed correctly.Can cause hypercalcemia if used excessively with calcium supplements or other calcium-containing products.
Typical Dose2-4 teaspoons every hour as needed, not exceeding 12 teaspoons in 24 hours500-1000 mg as symptoms occur, not to exceed 7,000 mg in one day

What is Maalox?

Maalox (a brand name for a combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide) was initially introduced as an over-the-counter antacid that marked significant progress from earlier remedies. Maalox was first approved by the FDA in 1949. It works by neutralizing stomach acid, effectively reducing the acidity level within the digestive system for longer periods than usual. It is used to treat symptoms such as heartburn, upset stomach or indigestion caused by excess stomach acid. While Tums (calcium carbonate) also serves as an effective antacid, Maalox has a dual action influence due to its two active ingredients which act together to balance each other out – mitigating constipation often associated with aluminum-based antacids and diarrhea frequently linked with magnesium-based ones. This results in it having fewer side effects than other single-ingredient antacids that may not have this balanced effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

What conditions is Maalox approved to treat?

Maalox is approved for the treatment of various digestive disorders, including:

  • Heartburn and acid indigestion
  • Upset stomach associated with these conditions
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms

It can also be used in combination with other medications to eliminate stomach ulcers.

How does Maalox help with these illnesses?

Maalox helps to manage symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux by neutralizing the stomach acid present. It accomplishes this by utilizing its active ingredients, aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, which are both antacids that work to increase the pH level in your stomach thus reducing its acidity. Stomach acid is a digestive fluid that aids in breaking down food but can cause discomfort when it comes into contact with the esophagus during instances of acid reflux or heartburn. By increasing the pH level and reducing acidity, Maalox aims to limit these uncomfortable effects and help patients manage their condition more effectively.

On the other hand, Tums mainly uses calcium carbonate as an active ingredient for similar purposes. Both medications serve their purpose well; however, they might have different secondary effects on mineral balances in long-term use due to differences in their composition.

What is Tums?

Tums is a brand name for an over-the-counter antacid made primarily of calcium carbonate, which works by neutralizing stomach acid on contact. It was first introduced to the market in 1930 and has been widely used ever since as a quick and effective remedy for heartburn or indigestion. Tums does not have any effect on serotonin levels, making its side-effect profile different from those of other medications such as Maalox (a combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide). In particular, Tums doesn't cause constipation or diarrhea—common side effects associated with Maalox. This makes it particularly suitable for patients who are looking for fast relief from discomfort caused by excess stomach acid without experiencing these unwanted digestive problems.

What conditions is Tums approved to treat?

Tums is an over-the-counter medication that is approved for the treatment of:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid indigestion
  • Sour stomach It can also be used as a calcium supplement. Tums work by neutralizing excess stomach acid to provide quick relief from these symptoms.

How does Tums help with these illnesses?

Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in Tums, and it works by neutralizing stomach acid. Just as norepinephrine plays a key role in many bodily functions, calcium carbonate has an essential function in maintaining pH balance within the body. It counteracts heartburn and indigestion by directly reducing acidity levels present in the stomach. Though Maalox also serves to alleviate these symptoms, Tums may be more beneficial for those who also require supplemental dietary calcium due to its high calcium content. Its action on excess stomach acid makes it a popular over-the-counter option for patients experiencing episodic heartburn or acid reflux, similar to how Wellbutrin might be chosen when typical SSRI antidepressants are not effective.

How effective are both Maalox and Tums?

Both Maalox and Tums have a long-established history of effectiveness in treating symptoms related to indigestion, heartburn, and stomach upset. Both medications were approved by the FDA several decades ago: Tums first became available in 1930 and Maalox was introduced in 1949. They both act as antacids, neutralizing excess stomach acid, but their specific ingredients differ slightly - Tums primarily contains calcium carbonate while Maalox is a combination of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide.

Their efficacy has been extensively studied over the years. A double-blind clinical trial conducted in 1975 compared the two drugs directly; they exhibited similar efficacy in managing symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, gastritis among others. No substantial differences were noted between patients receiving either medication.

A meta-analysis report from 2003 highlighted that calcium carbonate (Tums) starts working quickly within minutes of ingestion making it ideal for immediate relief from acute episodes of heartburn or acid reflux. It also contributes to daily calcium intake which can be beneficial especially for older adults at risk for osteoporosis.

However, comprehensive reviews indicate that despite being effective than placebo at relieving upper gastrointestinal discomforts , neither Maalox nor Tums are typically considered first-line treatment options when dealing with chronic conditions like GERD or gastric ulcers . These conditions often require more potent treatments such as proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers to manage effectively. Despite this limitation due to their unique formulations both Maalox and Tums may be an optimal choice for individuals who need quick temporary relief from occasional bouts of heartburn or mild acid indigestion.

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At what dose is Maalox typically prescribed?

The standard dosage for Maalox, an antacid designed to treat symptoms of heartburn and acid indigestion, is 2-4 teaspoons every hour as needed, but not exceeding 12 teaspoons in a 24-hour period. For Tums, another commonly used antacid, adults and children over the age of 12 are recommended to take 2-4 tablets as symptoms occur or as directed by a doctor. However, no more than 7 doses should be taken in a single day when being used regularly or no more than three doses if your diet has high levels of calcium. As always with medication use, it's crucial to adhere strictly to the prescribed dose and schedule.

At what dose is Tums typically prescribed?

Tums treatment typically begins with a dosage of 500-1000 mg taken by mouth as symptoms occur, but not to exceed 7,000 mg in one day. The dose may be increased up to the maximum per day depending on the severity of your heartburn or gastric discomfort. If you're dealing with consistent symptoms, it's recommended that you take Tums at regular intervals for better control over acidity levels. This can be divided into several doses spaced throughout the day and should not exceed more than 15 tablets (for strengths of 500mg) or 10 tablets (for strengths of 750mg) within a span of a full day. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider if there is no response to treatment after two weeks.

What are the most common side effects for Maalox?

Common side effects of Maalox may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Mild diarrhea or constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Loss of appetite, unusual weight loss
  • Mood changes, feeling restless or nervous

On the other hand, Tums can cause minor side effects like:

  • Constipation (especially when overused)
  • Belching and gas
  • Overly full feeling after meals.

These are not exhaustive lists and individuals should consult with their healthcare provider for a complete understanding of potential side effects.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Maalox?

While both Maalox and Tums are designed to alleviate heartburn and indigestion, they may cause side effects in rare instances. These could include:

  • Allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Severe stomach pain or constipation
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bone pain or muscle weakness
  • Changes in mood or mental state (like confusion)

Overuse of these antacids can also lead to an imbalance in your body's pH level resulting in metabolic alkalosis. Symptoms for this condition might consist of hand tremors, involuntary muscle twitching and a sense of feeling light-headed (as if you may pass out). If you experience any unusual symptoms after taking either Maalox or Tums, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Tums?

Tums, a popular antacid, can have the following side effects:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache In rare cases, Tums may cause a serious allergic reaction that includes rash, itching/swelling (particularly of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness and difficulty breathing. It's important to remember that everyone's body reacts differently to medication so not everyone will experience these side effects. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about potential side effects when starting new medications.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Tums?

While Tums is generally safe for most people, it may cause side effects in certain situations. It's crucial to pay attention to any unusual reactions you might have when taking this medication. Some notable symptoms could include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Unusual mood changes or confusion
  • Ongoing upset stomach
  • A decrease in the amount of urine produced or painful urination
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
  • Muscle weakness and twitching
  • Slow heart rate or weak pulse

If you experience any of these adverse effects while using Tums, immediately stop taking them and consult a healthcare professional.

Contraindications for Maalox and Tums?

Both Maalox and Tums, along with most other antacid medications, may alleviate symptoms of heartburn in many people. If you notice your heartburn worsening or persisting despite taking these over-the-counter remedies, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Maalox nor Tums should be taken if you are currently on certain antibiotics like tetracycline or fluoroquinolones unless directed by a physician. Always tell your doctor what medications you are taking; some antibiotics will require a period of about 2-3 hours before or after the administration of antacids to prevent interference with absorption.

Additionally, individuals suffering from kidney disease should use caution when using these products as they contain ingredients that could potentially worsen their condition. Pregnant women should also consult their health care provider before starting any new medication including over-the-counter ones like Maalox and Tums.

How much do Maalox and Tums cost?

For the brand name versions of these antacid drugs:

  • The price for a bottle of Tums Ultra Strength (containing 160 tablets) averages around $10, which works out to about $0.15 per day if you're taking the maximum dose of six tablets daily.
  • The cost for a bottle of Maalox Advanced Maximum Strength Liquid (12 oz), enough for approximately 24 doses, is roughly $8. This equates to an average daily cost between $0.30 and $1 depending on your dosage.

Therefore, if you are in need of frequent or higher-dosage relief from heartburn or indigestion, then Tums may be less expensive than Maalox on a per-day treatment basis.

As with any medication decision, it's important to note that cost should not be the primary consideration when determining which drug is most suitable for your needs – effectiveness and side effects also play crucial roles.

For generic versions equivalent to Tums (calcium carbonate) and Maalox (magnesium hydroxide/aluminum hydroxide/simethicone), costs can vary but are typically lower:

  • Generic calcium carbonate tablets can usually be found at comparable prices as branded Tums.
  • A similar situation applies to generic alternatives bearing the same active ingredients as Maalox - they tend generally to have comparable pricing.

Popularity of Maalox and Tums

Maalox, a well-known antacid and anti-gas medication, has been a go-to remedy for acid reflux and heartburn for many years. It is estimated that millions of people in the US use Maalox on an as-needed basis. The active ingredients in Maalox - aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide - work by neutralizing stomach acid to provide relief from discomfort.

Tums, another popular over-the-counter antacid brand with calcium carbonate as its main ingredient, also serves millions of Americans dealing with occasional or chronic heartburn and indigestion issues. Tums has maintained steady popularity due to its effectiveness at combating acid indigestion quickly. It also offers additional calcium intake which could be beneficial for those lacking this nutrient in their diet.

Both these medications have seen consistent use over the years due to their efficacy in providing relief from acidity-related issues. However, it's crucial to remember that they should not replace proper medical treatment if persistent or severe symptoms arise.


Both Maalox and Tums are popular over-the-counter remedies for occasional heartburn and acid indigestion. They work in similar ways, acting as antacids to neutralize stomach acid that has backed up into the esophagus. However, their specific ingredients differ: Maalox contains magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide, while Tums is made from calcium carbonate.

Due to these differences in composition, they may be recommended under different circumstances. For example, Tums might be appropriate for those who also need a calcium supplement or have kidney problems - it's generally safer for people with renal insufficiency since it doesn't contain magnesium; but on the other hand, too much can lead to hypercalcemia (excessive calcium).

Maalox tends not to cause constipation as much as Tums due its content of both magnesium (which can cause diarrhea) and aluminum (which can cause constipation), thus balancing each other out.

Both products are available at relatively low cost without a prescription. They offer immediate relief but this may be short-lived if triggers aren't addressed or a chronic condition such as GERD is present.

The side effect profile between the two drugs is similar; both being well-tolerated with few side effects when used appropriately but misuse or overuse could lead to issues like imbalance of electrolytes.

As always patients should consult with healthcare providers before starting any new medication regimen especially if they have pre-existing conditions or take other medications regularly.